April 17, 2006

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Anti-Sun Moon

Image by Rainer Ehlert

Unlike the Sun, the Moon is full only once a month. Full Moon occurs when our natural satellite is on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun. Much to the disgust of deep sky observers and criminals the Full Moon bathes us in light all night. Sadly many lunar observers put away their telescopes thinking that without shadows there is little to see. But as Rainer’s lovely image illustrates the Full Moon is full of details. Most conspicuous are the bright rayed craters, especially Tycho (with its dark ring of impact melt), Copernicus, and the spotlight of Aristarchus. Also conspicuous are the differences in darkness of the maria. You can see with your naked eye that Tranquillitatis is darker than Imbrium. The most dramatic difference is the dark collar around much of Mare Serenitatis, but there are also strong contrast boundaries in Imbrium and western Frigoris/southern Procellarum. A closer view reveals tiny contrast differences such as the three patches of dark material - volcanic dark halo craters - on the floor of Alphonsus, and the tiny ink drops (impact dark halo craters) near Theophilus and Copernicus. And have you seen the regional dark pyroclastic deposits just east of Sinus Aestuum, near Sulpicius Gallus and elsewhere? The Full Moon, and all the other phases, will surprise and delight if you look carefully.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
13 April 2006. TOA 130 at 750mm focal length + Infinity 2-2 CCD camera. Mosaic of 2 images

Related Links:
Rükl plates: all
Rainer’s website

Yesterday's LPOD: Fold the Moon

Tomorrow's LPOD: Restoring Bright Names


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